Long Island University: American Club Suspended for Criticizing Transgender Women on Instagram


Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On March 9, 2023, the American Club at Long Island University posted to Instagram criticism of those who celebrated transgender women on International Women’s Day. Four days later, it noticed it was under investigation and suspended in the interim. On July 6, LIU informed the organization it violated school policies on being civil, using offensive material, and verbal harassment, imposed a deferred suspension until May 31, 2024, required it to submit a DEI action plan, and mandated attendance at LGBTQIA+ training. 

FIRE wrote LIU on October 10 explaining that its promise to support free expression precludes punishing offensive, uncivil, and hateful speech; that its policies restricting such speech are vague and overbroad; and that the Instagram posts did not qualify as unlawful harassment. We also explained that requiring a DEI action plan impermissibly compels speech and that requiring attendance at an LGBTQIA+ training may cross the line from education to constitutional indoctrination. We further objected that imposing an interim suspension before an initial hearing, and taking nearly three months to investigate, violated the basic due process principles. We urged LIU to rescind all sanctions against the American Club, to revise the policies used to sanction it, and to follow procedures that comport with due process. When LIU failed to respond, we wrote again on November 27 to reiterate our concerns. 

On January 30, 2024, LIU notified the American Club that the required LGBTQIA+ training, arguably the most draconic sanction, no longer needed to be completed.